advice from a fake consultant

out-of-the-box thinking about economics, politics, and more... 

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

On Public Diplomacy, Or, Karen Hughes, Are You Listening?

Karen Hughes, we are told, has pulled an Elvis and “left the building”, so to speak.

Noting the vacuum at the top of the public diplomacy pyramid, I thought I’d take this opportunity to encourage some out-of-the box thinking regarding the manner in which we “do” the public diplomacy business.

Today’s conversation comes with a disclaimer:

This is satire.
I’m kidding.
Well, mostly, I’m kidding

To begin, then: I’m completely jumping over a discussion regarding the propriety of “public diplomacy”, because it seems pointless.


Because public diplomacy happens, whether you want it to or not.
The real question is: do you want managed or unmanaged public diplomacy?

To assist the discussion, I agree completely that actions speak louder than words, and public relations alone will never compensate for a nation’s bad behavior.

Before we discuss the methods, let’s consider some possible benchmarks for success.

I suggest that if your public diplomacy is going well, the following should happen:

People in other countries should have a better opinion of your country.

Citizens of the world should be more interested in your economy’s output.

Your country should be more attractive to the most desirable potential immigrants available.

Your country should be less of a target for your enemies.

For that matter, if you’re doing well, over time, you should have fewer enemies.

So to get the ball rolling, here’s my proposal:

The American Lottery

How would it work? Something like this…

…Anybody in the world, except American citizens, would be invited to visit the “American Lottery” website. If you’re a lucky random visitor, you get something American.

Maybe a Big Mac coupon.
Maybe a $50 bill.
Maybe a Cadillac.
For one lucky winner, how about a Boeing Business Jet?

Advantages? Here’s a few:

You get a huge bang for the buck. (Maverick missile goes for about $1.5 million. So do 30 Corvettes, more or less. Which would you rather see falling from the sky into your town?)

Winners will like us better.

Our economic output will be far more interesting to the world

We’ll probably have a lot fewer enemies.

Maybe it’ll keep an auto assembly line open a bit longer.

This could be accomplished with no-bid contracts, or by directing the investment with the help of the best lobbyists and well placed contributions. (Bonus!)

Here’s the best part: once somebody wins an Escalade, they have less interest in blowing up the Escalade factory. Might need spare parts one day.

So that’s my modest proposal.

Karen Hughes, are you listening?

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